High-Roller. NFL Week 11 Recap

Matthew Stafford and Brady Quinn put on a show in Detroit. The “haves” in the AFC North fell to the “have-nots” from the AFC West, and the wild card picture in both conferences grew even more muddled. Will the real playoff contenders please stand up?

Saved their 2009 season in week 11: Dolphins, Eagles, Giants, Packers.
Watched their 2009 season slip further away: 49ers, Bears, Falcons, Jets, Panthers, Ravens

Kicking Off

The game of the day wasn’t the battle for the AFC West, it wasn’t the grudge match in the AFC East, nor was it the NFC East slugfest in Dallas. The game of the week, and arguably the year, took place in Detroit, between the Browns and the Lions, two teams with a combined 2-16 record. Seriously. Quarterbacks, Brady Quinn and Matthew Stafford were lighting up the scoreboard at an alarming rate. There were comebacks, and comebacks, and then, one final comeback. The defenses weren’t as impressive, but who needs defense when the offenses put up 75 points and over 900 total yards. Both young and struggling, Quinn and Stafford combined for 9 touchdown passes. Going into the game, the two had only thrown 6 touchdowns all year long. To top it all off, a desperation Hail Mary actually worked. Well, sort of. As the final seconds ticked off the clock and trailing by six, the Lions watched as Stafford scrambled around the backfield for what seemed like an hour. He finally found a window to heave the ball into the endzone where the officials called the Browns for pass interference. One play from the one yard line would determine the game. Stafford came through and the Lions kicked the extra point for the win.

The biggest, baddest teams in the AFC North went on the road to take on the bottom feeders of the AFC West… and lost. The Pittsburgh Steelers looked sloppy right from the gun as they allowed their league-leading 8th return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. Despite doubling the Chiefs in time of possession, the Steelers were crippled by three turnovers, including one in the red zone. A week after being outmuscled by the Cincinnati Bengals, the defending champions lost to a hungrier Kansas City team. The Bengals, with an opportunity to put the division out of reach, fell to the lowly Oakland Raiders. Cincinnati miscues, turnovers, and two empty trips inside the red zone allowed the Raiders to hang around until they finally tied the game with less than a minute remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the Bengals fumbled away the ball, and the game as the Raiders kicked the game winning field goal a few plays later. Showing up isn’t enough to win a football game, even if it’s against the basement dwellers of the AFC West.

Don’t look now, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are the top wild card team in the AFC. At 6-4, the lost and forgotten Jaguars have a better record than the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, and top the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos in a tiebreaker via conference record. While they boast only one victory over a winning team, the Jaguars will have plenty of opportunities to prove their playoff worthiness over the next five weeks. After the 49ers, Jacksonville will do battle with four AFC playoff hopefuls in the Texans, Dolphins, Colts and Patriots (away). If the Jaguars can win three of those five, they should remain in the race. Hopefully, the Jacksonville locals will realize the overachieving team in their backyard and fill their empty stadium. As the AFC wild card teams collapse toward the middle of the pack, the Jaguars have a real shot at reaching the postseason.

That was impressive…
  • Peyton Manning is smart AND tough. While he doesn’t take unnecessary hits, he will stand in the pocket and take a lick to make a play as he did on Sunday when Ray Lewis put a shoulder into him.
  • Buccaneers rookie quarterback, Josh Freeman, made a great play to avoid the pressure and find his receiver open in the corner of the end zone.
  • Browns total points scored in previous four games: 23. Points scored in 1st quarter of Sunday’s game vs. Lions: 24.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs went punch for punch with the defending champs and hung around long enough to deliver the TKO. Good for them.
  • Brett Favre has still got a rocket. It’s hard not to enjoy what he’s doing this year in Minnesota. He may be getting better every week.
  • Fantastic one-handed grab by Colts TE Dallas Clark. He didn’t even bother to bring his other hand over. CBS commentator Dan Dierdorf yelled, “Stop it! Stop it!” when Clark came down with the ball.
  • Saints keep winning, 10-0
  • Bruce Gradkowski gives the Raiders a chance to win. He wasn’t stellar, but he orchestrated the game tying drive and led the Raiders to a big victory.
  • Wes Welker is the most underrated player in the NFL. Tom Brady isn’t Tom Brady without Wes Welker.
  • The Redskins have been done for a few weeks but are playing their best ball of the season
  • Lions QB, Matthew Stafford going back on the field to throw the game winning TD with a bum shoulder
  • The Colts 4th quarter goal line stand. Ravens had three plays from the one and rushed three times for -1 yard and kicked a field goal.
  • Buffalo Bills interim coach, Perry Fewell brought some much needed energy to the Buffalo sideline. I enjoyed watching him more than his offense.
  • Even without a passing attack, Rams running back, Steven Jackson rushed for over 100 yards and a TD again. His effort week in and week out is commendable.
  • The San Diego Chargers went into Denver and manhandled the Broncos in every facet of the game.
  • Terrell Owens made an appearance today. First we’ve heard from him in 2009.
  • For the second time this season, Jets CB Darrelle Revis got the best of Patriots WR Randy Moss.
Not so much…
  • The Eagles youngsters are explosive but contributed to all three turnovers on Sunday night. LeSean McCoy fumbled; DeSean Jackson was run off his route by a stronger cornerback that led to an interception, and later fumbled.
  • The vaunted AFC North went 0-4 today. Excluding the Colts, their opponents combined record was 3-22.
  • The Denver Broncos’ two best offensive players pushing and shoving each other on the sideline en route to their fourth straight loss.
  • The Packers potentially losing both Aaron Kampman and Al Harris for the remainder of the year
  • The Browns committing a penalty on a Hail Mary. This happens once every 638 attempts. Unbelievable.
  • Two red zone fumbles by the Denver Broncos in a game they desperately needed. Their playoff forecast looks grim.
  • You won’t see too many players drop an easier interception than the one Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh dropped on Sunday. Fell right into his lap and he blew it.
  • Braylon Edwards and Roy Williams are the two most underachieving receivers in the NFL. Yes, even more than Terrell Owens.
  • The Patriots closed the first half with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and a missed field goal. They failed to regain the momentum they lost until the 4th quarter.
  • Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a 31 yard field goal that almost cost the Giants the game. A loss could have ended the Giants season.
  • Why did the Cowboys only score seven points today? They were 3/11 on 3rd down and their receivers only caught 5 balls for 57 yards.
  • Falcons WR Michael Jenkins dropped an easy touchdown pass and forced Atlanta to kick the field goal. Had Jenkins held on, the Falcons would be sitting at 6-4 instead of floundering at 5-5.
  • Joe Flacco has been dreadful over the past month. He’s officially infected with the sophomore slump virus. Ray Lewis is probably missing Trent Dilfer. That’s how bad Flacco’s been.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills played in front of more empty seats than human beings today. Come on people, the Jags are in the playoff race!
  • Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham cost Washington a division win today. Can’t miss from 39 yards when you’re indoors.
  • The Green Bay Packers opened the door for the 49ers comeback by failing to score touchdowns on three of their five red zone visits.
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A

QB Brady Quinn: 21/33 304 YDS, 4 TD
RB Ryan Grant: 21 Carries, 129 YDS, TD
WR Terrell Owens: 9 Rec, 197 YDS, TD
WR Reggie Wayne: 15 Rec, 192 YDS
TE Kevin Boss: 5 Rec, 76 YDS, 2 TD
D Chargers: 3 Points, 271 Yards allowed, 3 Turnovers, 3 Sacks

Probably should have stayed in bed

QB Mark Sanchez: 8/21 136 YDS, TD, 4 INT, Fumble
RB Justin Forsett: 9 Carries, 9 YDS, TD
WR Braylon Edwards: 1 Rec, 10 YDS, 0 TD, Multiple drops
WR Roy Williams: 0 Rec, 0 YDS, Typical drops
TE Anthony Becht: 1 Rec, -1 YDS, Fumble
D Browns/Lions: Surrendered a total of 75 Points and 912 Yards

Quick Slants

Jets QB Mark Sanchez isn’t getting a whole lot from his receivers, but he’s not very good right now.

Whenever I watch Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis run at the end of the half or the game, I laugh. Pay attention next time. His running style is comical.

This is great: Whenever the Indianapolis Colts play in Baltimore, the stadium announcements and scoreboards refuse to acknowledge them as the “Colts.” Instead, the scoreboard read “Indy 7, Ravens 0” and the public address announcer introduced them as, “Indianapolis’ professional football team.” I’m glad Baltimore hasn’t forgotten the Colts leaving town in the middle of the night.

For the 3rd consecutive week, I’ve had my fantasy running back go down with injury in the 1st quarter. First, it was Clinton Portis, then Julius Jones, and now Ladell Betts. Bad luck this year.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I felt that Reggie Wayne should have gone up to knock away Peyton Manning’s errant pass that was picked off by Ed Reed. Yes, Wayne might have gotten killed, but isn’t that his job to protect his QB?

Jim Zorn decided to kick a field goal on 3rd and 2 from the twenty-one with 15 seconds left in the 1st half. Why he didn’t take one shot at the end zone is beyond me. They missed the field goal by the way.

Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez was a beast on the Falcons game-tying drive. Whenever he needed a play, Matt Ryan would simply throw it up in Gonzalez’s direction and let the athletic tight end make a play, which he did, every time.

After Colts TE Tom Santi made a play, CBS announcer Greg Gumbel made a joke referencing “Santi Clause.” Without hesitation, Gumbel’s partner in the booth, Dan Dierdorf, said, “oh boy, I’d be embarrassed if I said that.”

49ers’ TE Vernon Davis is nearly unstoppable on the post. He’s scored almost all of his touchdowns on that identical play.

After Dallas missed a 38 yard field goal late in the 1st half, Redskins head coach, Jim Zorn, made sure to tell play caller, Sherman Lewis, that he really liked that particular play. Apparently, no one has informed Zorn that Lewis only calls plays for the Redskins.

Brady Quinn needs a few more performances like Sunday’s to have a career in Cleveland.

The Patriots and Colts are clearly the top two teams in the AFC.

A very sad fact: It looks as if four of the five NFC playoff games will be played inside domes. The Cardinals will host a game on wildcard weekend and the divisional round will be hosted by the Saints and Vikings. The championship game will then most likely be held in one of those domes. I hate football in domes, especially playoff football.

Andy Reid ran the ball 30 times on Sunday night. 30 times!! As December nears, Andy begins calling games with more common sense. Happens every year.

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